From the globalisation of the world economy, to the re-confederation of the nations in the Roman Empire and Holy Roman Empire into an increasingly less and less democratic Federal Europe, to the rise of ecumenism, to a host of environmental factors; from increased seismic activity to thermal pollution, to the ethnic cleansing of ‘nation against nation’, to the quest for a false peace in the Middle East, to the seduction of the evangelical church, we certainly see ourselves drawing closer to His coming ˜ and a church less and less prepared for it.
In God’s grace however, we also see a faithful remnant being raised up and prepared by the Holy Spirit.
1 Timothy Chapter 4
An important aspect of God’s preparation of the faithful is to prepare them for what must precede the return of Jesus. One of the clearest and most important predictive prophecies we have in the New Testament about what will transpire before the Return of Jesus however is in Chapter 4 of Paul the Apostle’s first epistle to Timothy. The First Century church in certain respects typologically prefigures the Church of the Last Century. Therefore, it is of course entirely possible (some would say likely) that we have now entered that last century. It is against this background that Paul writes to Timothy and to us:
1 But the spirit explicitly says that in the Latter Times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons
2 by means of hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron,
3 men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which god created to be gratefully shared by those who believe and know the truth.
4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude:
5 for it is sanctified by means of the Word of God and prayer.
6 In pointing these things out to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following.
7 But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness;
8 for bodily discipline is only for little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things since it holds promise for the present life and also the life to come.
9 It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance.
10 For it is this we labour and strive, for we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the saviour of all men especially of believers.
11 Prescribe and teach these things.
12 Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity show yourself an example of those who believe.
13 Until I come give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhortation and teaching
14 Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you , which was bestowed upon you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery
15 Take pains with these things, be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be evident to all.
16 Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things; for as you do you will insure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.
This text of course contains Paul’s apostolic instruction and exhortation by the Holy Spirit for Timothy to in turn disseminate these instructions and exhortations to others (1 Tim.4:6,11), which, via the canon of the New Testament, includes all believers for all time, not only including us, but if we are in the “Latter Days” especially us since the context is eschatological: that is, speaking of the Last Days.
The first feature of what the Holy Spirit says explicitly concerns a falling way. The Greek word is Apostasontai the future tense of the verbal form of the word apostasia meaning to “depart out from” and is the same word used for the great falling away in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 associated with the anti christ (Many people have often warned that the ecumenical movement, charismania and hyper pentecostalism, liberal theology, and word-faith deception are all preludes leading up to and helping set the stage for this mass backsliding). The same falling away Paul predicts in association with the antichrist in 2 Thessalonians is dealt with from a more pastoral perspective in his epistle to Timothy. We might say that in 2 Thessalonians Paul deals with the apostasy itself, while in 1 Timothy he deals with the trends within the church leading up to these events. As a senior shepherd, he urges a younger pastor to protectively alert the sheep (and via him in the providence of scripture, alert us) as to what to expect.
The first danger here is the belief that Christians cannot fall away. This is a complex subject in itself that cannot be dealt with in detail here, but is a concept that, when studied, plainly refutes the comfortable doctrine of “Once Saved, Always Saved” and places it in error. One cannot depart from what one was never in to begin with. The bible warns clearly of a mass apostasy and the notion that only unsaved people can fall away from something they were never in to begin with is linguistically, theologically, and logically absurd.
No one can snatch us out of the Father’s hand, but we can misuse the free will that was restored to us by Jesus at the crucifixion, to ‘fall away’. This is why verse 16 states that it is we who insure our salvation. This chapter tells us that it is rather those who are forewarned of these dangers and act accordingly who can be assured of their security, and not those who deny it can ever even happen (1 Timothy 4:16). In the last days, the Spirit explicitly says that it shall happen!
DOCTRINES OF DEMONS
From here Paul tells us, by the Holy Spirit, of the initial form that the Last Days apostasy will take and he begins by pointing out it will be hypocritical liars in the church propagating doctrines that are demonic in order to mislead Christians. The Holy Spirit does not inspire Paul to mince words in his description of these people, nor does he make any appeal for them. Neither does Paul place the blame only on the demons. The doctrines come from demons but are proclaimed by deceived leaders in the church.
Specifically, the first of these doctrines is a soft form of legalism called nomianism, here concerned with dietary regulation. It is not that these people abstain from certain foods for cultural or testimonial reasons as a matter of personal choice, but they doctrinally advocate it. This is Judaization (not a recognition of the Judaic origins of the Christian faith, but a return to religious bondage). It is no coincidence that Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons, hyper Messianic extremists, (and concerning ‘Days of Abstinence’ and Lent, even Catholics) engage in such demonic practice as placing people into bondage to dietary laws.
With the influx of New Age philosophy into evangelical circles via the Vineyard Movement and writers such as Clark Pinnock, William De Artega, Patrick Dixon and Yongee Cho, saved Christians become predisposed to all manner of New Age influences. It is probably no coincidence that in certain quarters in the USA, ideas of holistic medicine and vegetarianism as a route to higher spirituality are already being repackaged in evangelical jargon for consumption by the naïve and doctrinally ignorant believers.
From here Paul moves on to mandatory celibacy, a doctrine of demons, which for its clergy still remains a cardinal doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church. Thus by denying the natural expression of marriage, today we at long last see exposed the ages old Roman Catholic plague of homosexual and paedophile clergy as well as an avalanche of conventional forms of adultery and fornication. From the convent whore houses of the Dark Ages and Renaissance (these were simply a continuation under the auspices of the papacy of what had previously been the religious bordellos of the vestal virgins of pagan Rome and the hieros gamos temple prostitution of ancient Greece) to the more contemporary scandals that literally helped bring down the Irish government a few years ago for covering up the sexual violation of small children by the Roman Catholic clergy, we see the results of such demonic doctrine.
When the natural and moral is forbidden, the unnatural and immoral finds an outlet (1 Corinthians 7:9).
Yet the Holy Spirit says explicitly that this demonic doctrine will likewise feature prominently in the latter days. In America the ‘Church of Bible Understanding’ cult led by Stuart Trail, is one noted supposedly evangelical group with a policy of virtual celibacy. Disturbing also is the anti-matrimonial bias of Bill Gothard and his youth seminars. The potential consequences of Gothard’s bias can be devastating. He discourages marriage until the age of 30, the gynaecological age where if a female has not already had a child she runs a higher clinical risk statistically of infertility, miscarriage, and a host of possible congenital birth defects for her baby. Gothard is neither medically nor theologically qualified. Not surprisingly, a sex scandal involving Gothard’s brother and office staff rocked his Illinois based organisation. Still, many pastors will yet urge their youth groups to attend Gothard’s seminars.
More distressing however is the accommodation of Roman Catholicism and its acceptance as Christian, despite such demonic doctrines by theologians claiming to be evangelical such as Norman Geisler (who actually adheres to the Aristotelian heresy of Thomas Aquinas and is associated with the Roman Catholic Loyola University) and the reformed Calvinist theologian J.I. Packer who joined Chuck Colson, Pat Robertson, and Bill Bright in signing the ‘Evangelical and Catholics Together’ acceptance of Roman Catholicism and its included refusal to evangelise Roman Catholics. With the compromise with Rome, comes not only a compromise with another gospel called sacramentalism (making them accursed of God - Galatians 1:8), but also a compromise with Rome’s doctrines, including its celibacy. ˜ A Doctrine of Demons.
PROPER NOURISHMENT, NOT FABLES
In verse 6 in a play on words in the Greek text Paul contrasts the wrong doctrines forbidding food in the previous passage as ‘bad food‘ to right doctrine which is ‘good food’ or entraphomenos meaning ‘to be nourished’. He takes his comparison further by referring to false doctrines as fables, or in Greek muthos where we get the word ‘myths’ which most English bibles, in my opinion inaccurately, translate as “silly” fables that are old womanish. The actual Greek word is not silly, but bebelous better translated as ’something that profanes.’
Such mythical doctrines which profane, are indeed rife today within the realm of popular charismania as opposed to biblical charismata, in the latter times. Thus, from such fables emerge two things. The first is demonic doctrines (in this case required celibacy) and the second is those “liars” (as Paul calls them) who propagate such demonic doctrines. In verse 2 Paul calls these liars in Greek pseudologon meaning a ‘false Logos’ or more precisely a demonic counterfeit of the true incarnate logos - the Lord Jesus who reveals himself in the flesh, through the Holy Spirit, and in the Living Word of scripture.
Remembering that the theme of both 2 Thessalonians 2 and 1 Timothy 4 is the same last days apostasy, in both we see the relationship between the coming antichrist and this coming apostasy.
· In 2 Thessalonians, he is the man of perdition, a false christ (the Greek term literally meaning “in place of Christ” who features in the end times apostasy.
· In 1 Timothy 4 we have the term pseudo-logon; merely a different case ending in the Greek text for pseudo-logos or ‘false logos’ meaning “in place of the true Logos”,. once more featuring eschatologically in this same end times apostasy.
· Therefore in 1 Timothy Chapter 4:
o instead of the true Logos revealed in the flesh, the false logos says the flesh is bad (also a key antichrist characteristic in 1 John 4:1-3).
o Instead of the true Logos revealed through the Person of the Holy Spirit, the false logos is revealed through a demon.
o Instead of the true Logos revealed in A Living Word, the false logos becomes revealed in a stupid superstitious fable.
o And instead of the true Logos being preached by faithful servants of the Lord such as Paul and Timothy were, the false logos is preached by backslidden liars - all of which results in profanity.
This, as God’s Word in this chapter forecasts, is exactly the kind of ridiculous mess we see having emerged and see still emerging today; the end product of which can only be the complete and utter apostasy explicitly predicted here by the Holy Spirit Himself via St. Paul to Timothy and also to us.
THE SAVIOUR OF ALL MEN
In verse 10 Paul reveals that “God is the saviour of all men, especially of those who believe”. This is both a christological statement about Jesus and a soteriological statement about salvation, where the Holy Spirit is inspiring Paul to refute two significant doctrinal errors that, in His eternal omniscience, the Lord knew would emerge after the time of the apostles.
THE DIVINE BALANCE - ATTENTION TO THE WORD AND NEGLECT NOT THE GIFT
In verse 13 Paul issues his admonishment that attention be given to the public reading of scripture, to exhortation, and to teaching. John Wesley would one day lament that Methodism would decline because of these three priorities on the ministry of the Word, as will any other movement or denomination that ignores them. Today we witness the essential ruination of the United Reformed Church, Methodism, and most of Presbyterianism and of course the Church of England whose latest UK statistics indicate a further reduction by 36,000 in regular attendance since the last tabulation according to BBC News Night, (proving that things like Alpha Courses have made no over all difference to the downward spiral of the divided denomination that produce it). The growth has been among Eastern Religion, Neo-Paganism, and Cults. Under the leadership of Bernard Green and Douglas MacBaine there has similarly been a journey down the ecumenical road, away from the bible by the Baptist Union, while the phenomenal decline in the Assemblies of God with decreased conference attendance, with churches pulling out. And the out and out moral scandals rocking Elim in the secular press in both Britain and New Zealand can all be attributed either directly or indirectly to the departure from Paul’s emphasis on scripture.
Fortunately in relative terms, the Independent Evangelical Churches have not made major moves in the direction of departing from a biblical premise, and could possibly be regarded as the true Baptists. While there are clear areas of hope, the over all picture is not a happy one, with even the calibre of bible teaching among the Brethren not for the most part more than a shadow of what it was a generation ago.
ONE WORLD RELIGION
Antichrist will indeed oppose Christ, but in the most diabolically clever way possible: by pretending to BE Christ. For the world to follow and worship a false antichrist, "Christianity" must become the world religion—a "Christianity" that all religions can accept and which embraces all religions into one faith – after all, all religions serve the same God, don’t they? (That will be the reasoning behind it – to respect each others beliefs!!”). Hence the necessity for today's growing apostasy: to create an apostate church to be the Antichrist's earthly bride, just as the true church is Christ's heavenly bride. Such is the important role of the New Age movement and the many accelerating delusions and seductions in these "last days."
Through a false gospel, false prophets, occult religious practices and lying "signs and wonders," today's churches are being filled with millions who call themselves Christians, but who are not. Left behind at the Rapture, and happy that the "negative" influence of the vanished troublemakers has been removed, they will worship and follow the Antichrist, thinking he is the true Christ and that they have "never had it so good." An ecumenized "Christianity," in partnership with all religions, will carry on and prosper even more after the Rapture than before. The unifying factor will be concern for Mother Earth. Working for UNITY, peace and ecological wholeness will have replaced truth as the basis of Christianity, as the World Council of Churches has already decreed.
Wrong doctrine results in wrong conduct. If our conduct and our doctrine are right, we need not fear this apostasy that the Spirit explicitly warns of; but we will as verse 16 states, insure salvation for ourselves and for those hearing us.